01 The Rise of Christendom


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Overview of the early years of the spread of the Christian Church in the first centuries.

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01 The Rise of Christendom

  1. 1. The Rise of Christendom The early Church
  2. 2. Gospel 2
  3. 3. Acts 1:8[Jesus said,] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  4. 4. When did he say this? 4
  5. 5. When would the Holy Spirit come to them? 5
  6. 6. ἀπόστολος apostolos 6
  7. 7. What job did Jesus give them to do?
  8. 8. Acts 10:9-48 [Peter] saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
  9. 9. Acts 10:9-48 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven...
  10. 10. Acts 10:9-48 [Peter] said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean... I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
  11. 11. Acts 10:9-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles...
  12. 12. Acts 7:55-59 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit... said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this... they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him...
  13. 13. Acts 8:1-4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria... Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
  14. 14. Summary 14
  15. 15. God no longer made the nation of Israel the place where He would focus His Word and blessings
  16. 16. While there were missionaries like Paul doing major missionary work in the decades following the Resurrection, He wanted to force the believers out into Gentile lands
  17. 17. Matthew 23:37, 24:1-2 [Jesus said,] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”…
  18. 18. Matthew 23:37, 24:1-2 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
  19. 19. When was this prophesy, recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels, fulfilled?
  20. 20. Jewish scholars began writing the Talmud and redefining Judaism outside of the covenants and rituals of the Old Testament
  21. 21. Prior to 70 AD, the Church was primarily led by Jews focused out of Jerusalem. Now it was much more decentralized and Gentile. 21
  22. 22. Rome and Christianity 22
  23. 23. With some notable exceptions (e.g., Nero), Romans couldn’t care less about the new Jewish sect 23
  24. 24. (That will change in 250 AD, but more on that later...) 24
  25. 25. There was basic religious freedom, and most pagans didn’t even see saying that Jesus was a god was all that unusual 25
  26. 26. “Death to the atheists!” 26
  27. 27. Rome really didn’t care what religion you were, as long as you’re not an “atheist” 27
  28. 28. Daniel 3 Plato’s Phaedo 28
  29. 29. 29
  30. 30. Matthew 10:34-36 [Jesus said,] “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword... A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” 30
  31. 31. Rebuffed friends and family became extremely suspicious. Think about how you’d react if your sister suddenly stopped doing all the stuff that you know she enjoys, joined some cult, sold all of her possessions, and started talking about how you’d be damned to eternal torture if you didn’t do the same. 31
  32. 32. Many of the Christian communities were communes Communes had the same reputation then as they do now... 32
  33. 33. Christians referred to each other as “brother/sister,” gave each other “holy kisses”, participated in “love feasts” (cf. Jude 1:12), ate the body and blood of a man, met primarily at night, etc. 33
  34. 34. 34
  35. 35. Tacitus’ Annals (15.44)“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa... but even in Rome. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.” 35
  36. 36. Regardless, the Gospel was still preached, and the Holy Spirit continued to do His work 36
  37. 37. At the turn of the 4th century, Emperor Diocletian rebuilt the crumbling empire Part of doing that was a recommitment to the gods that had made Rome great 37
  38. 38. After distinguishing himself in Britain, Constantine became a Caesar (of 2 or 4, depending how you count) when his father died. He made it illegal to persecute Christians, mostly as a waste of resources and to “buy off” more supporters. 38
  39. 39. According to tradition, on his way to conquer Rome he received a vision of the ChiRho and the words “In hoc signo vinces” (“In this sign, conquer”) 39
  40. 40. He had his soldiers put this sign on the standards of his army (shields, flags, etc.) He routed an army four times his in number (though not nearly as experienced) at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D., and clinched his military control of the Empire 40
  41. 41. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, granting universal religious freedom While not officially favoring Christianity, he made it clear he leaned that way, including calling the Council of Nicaea He was baptized on his deathbed The capital was move to Constantinople (Istanbul) 41
  42. 42. Theodosius united the split Empire and declared Catholic (Nicene) Christianity to be the sole official religion. (Upon his death, his sons re-split the East and West, and it was never reunified.) He actively worked to crush Hellenistic religion, destroying temples, banning the Olympics, etc. 42
  43. 43. Over the years it became more and more “advantageous” to be associated with the Christian Church Unfortunately – as with anything else that grants political or social advantage – a lot of people became “Christian” because they wanted those advantages, not because of religious conviction This lead to a great deal political intrigue inside the church, which would curse her from that time on... 43
  44. 44. A Different Kind of Empire 44
  45. 45. A forged document, claiming to have been written by Constantine celebrating his baptism, made the bishop of Rome the Pope and gave him the city of Rome The document acted as a primary justification for Papal authority until it was proven to be a fake, but by then “possession being nine tenths of the law” in both land and power, it was a moot point 45
  46. 46. Council of Nicaea 46
  47. 47. Shortly after consolidating his power and the Edict of Milan, Constantine called for the Council of Nicaea The purpose of the Council was to unify Christendom 47
  48. 48. As part of that effort he also commissioned St. Jerome to compile the books of the Bible together and translate them into Latin 48
  49. 49. Constantine needed a united Christian Church to help unify his Empire The Church Fathers needed a united Church and an official statement of faith from her in order to fight heresy 49